Book Review: Roman Britain's Pirate King: Carausius Constantitus Chlorus and the Fourth Roman Invasion of Britain by Dr Simon Elliott




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Admittedly I don't know a great deal about Roman history. It's not something that was really studied in great detail throughout my education but definitely an area of history that I'm intrigued to discover more about which is why I was keen to read this book. 

Simon Elliott's Roman Britain's Pirate King: Carausius Constantitus Chlorus and the Fourth Roman Invasion tells the fascinating story of how Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Valerius Carausius usurped the western augustus (senior emperor) Maximian in 286 AD. This allowed him to establish a North Sea Empire in Gaul and Britain which lasted a little over a decade until 296 AD. Elliott analyses key events and aspects of the chronology of the Roman Empire which are pivotal to the story of Carausius' seizure of power and rule including the role of Roman coinage, the disappearance of the Classis Britannia and also considers the impact of his rule on the Roman Empire as a whole.

Elliott does an excellent job in catering to those with limited knowledge of Roman history. The beginning of the book is dedicated to providing "the reader with all the background necessary to understand the striking events". The scene is set by outlining how the 'Crisis of the 3rd Century' had a significant impact on the very structure of the empire and the nature of Roman occupied Britain. Elliott goes on to look at how the crisis initiated significant change in the Roman military and navy analysing the changes in military structure including what weaponry was used. As someone with a very limited background knowledge of the subject this is very useful as it helps set the scene for the story of Roman Britain's Pirate King. 

Roman Britain's Pirate King is an excellent  and fascinating analysis of the story of Carausius' seizure of power and his eventual downfall. Elliott is evidently an expert on the topic and uses a range of sources to support his argument including archaeological data. He does a fantastic job in ensuring that readers don't need to be experts in Roman history to read this book and sets out  a clear chronology of Ancient Rome which is important when considering the story of Carausius. This is an must read for all those interested in the history of the Roman Empire and those who want to learn about Roman Britain's pirate king.

You can purchase Roman Britain's Pirate King by Simon Elliott at Pen and Sword Books or at Bookshop.org (affiliate link).


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